Spatchcocked turkey and other Thanksgiving firsts

Matt and I've grown up so much. Just two years ago when we spent Thanksgiving on our own, we ordered and picked up our dinner from our local grocery store. The following year, we spent with family. And then, this year, we found ourselves all alone again, only this time there would be no ordering pre-cooked meals. This time we would cook everything ourselves. Starting with the turkey.

The November Martha Stewart Living is what originally got me thinking that we could do it--specifically the step-by-step guide on how to cook spatchcocked turkey. And before you get totally freaked out (there will be many more opportunities for this), as far as I can tell, spatchcocking is basically just butchering the turkey so that it can flatten out and you can cook it in about 70 minutes instead of 4-5 hours.

Martha's version:

Our version (the next three pictures):

1. Cut out the backbone.

2. Look on in disbelief at the backbone you had someone else (Matt) just cut out of this turkey carcass. Marvel at it. Talk about how disconnected we are from the food we eat. Call a few friends and recommend the movie Food, Inc. again.

3. Step out of the room and fail to take pictures of the step where Matt breaks the breastbone. You are sort of freaked out.

4. While Matt puts the flattened bird in the oven, pour a glass of champagne and mix in a little apple cider. Take a time out and then, when you feel ready, psych yourself up for your next first: Caesar salad.

...In my family, my mom always serves up Caesar salad with Thanksgiving dinner. Despite my deep desire to continue to rag on my mom on this blog as she continues to never check it and/or defend herself, I must say that her Caesar salad is fantastic. That being said, when it came time to buy all the ingredients, Mom was nowhere to be found, so I ended up using Tyler Florence's recipe.

The recipe didn't call for Flott anchovies by name, but after spying this packaging, I may be sold for life. Is that fish wearing a chef's cap on his head or is it a button mushroom?!

Flott + raw egg yolks = the same kind of problem I ran into with the carbonara. The dressing tasted good, but how could I really concentrate on that when part of me knew I was eating the above. (Aggh! Why am I so disconnected from the food I eat?? I was so much happier when I ordered Thanksgiving from the grocery store!) OK, I'm kidding. Mostly.

It's sort of embarassing to admit, but here are some more firsts for us: mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing. I guess we are adults for real now?

Matt's plate:

The wrap up: everything was amaaaazing. The turkey was cooked to perfection. The mashed potatoes and gravy, in particular, were insane. We did Ina Garten's recipe for both and she does not disappoint. The Caesar was good, too, but maybe a little too citrusy.

I'll leave you with my favorite picture from the whole day: Matt's to-do list next to my champagne/apple cider cocktail with a section of a clementine tossed in.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope yours was great!


Matt said...

This was my favorite Thanksgiving... and the Caesar salad was NOT too citrusy! Can't wait to do it again next year!

Anonymous said...

I got queasy/felt faint at the backbone part but otherwise great job on your first Thanksgiving!

Heather Taylor said...

love it!!! this looks divine. next year you guys should come to my mom's!

Mary Anne said...

I'm so impressed! I still can't imagine cooking a whole Thanksgiving dinner. I have one question. I saw Julia Child and Jacques whatever his name is do a flattened turkey like that on tv. They reassembled it to serve it, so it looked like a whole turkey again! Did you do that?

Amelia Morris said...

interesting, mary anne! Our directions didn't say anything about that, but I originally thought that that's what we were going to do. Alas, after pulling it from the oven, we just sliced it up and ate it. :/

penelope said...

I believe that fish is wearing a chef's cap. Great job!

Jessica said...

Looks like the perfect Thanksgiving. Ina's mashed potatoes and gravy are utterly amazing.

Margaret said...

So next thanksgiving I plan on coming to LA. That looked delicious!

Anonymous said...

Tasty! You make me believe that I could one day cook the family turkey! Seriously, I'm saving the recipe for Christmas Dinner! Was it Ina's Parmesan Smashed Potatoes recipe?
(Total novic here)

Courtney said...

Amelia, congrats on your first Thanksgiving! It was much more successful than my first one 12 years ago...the turkey was insanely dry, the mashed potatoes cold and chunky, and the gravy came from a packet. granted i was a teenager, but still...i'd much rather have had YOURS instead! it looks amazing, all of it...and way to go on the spatchcocking!


bon appetempt said...

Thanks Anna! It's the mashed potatoes and homemade gravy from Ina Garten's book "Barefoot Contessa Family Style." Although I'm sure the Parmesan Smashed Potatoes are amazing too!

Mark and Marsha said...

Fantastic post. Let's not wait until next year to repeat this meal. You know what we always say -- "everything tastes better spatchcocked".

Sara said...

Hi Amelia :) I need a bit of advice. My husband and I are serving our inlaws and my parents for the first time together at thanksgiving. Should I try this turkey recipe? was it as easy at it sounds or should I order it pre-cooked?:) help please. Lots of Love from Brookline, MA

Amelia Morris said...

Hi Sara! I have a fond place in my heart for Brookline. My cousins used to live there. Point being: I truly don't remember making this! I consulted Matt who does remember and says that it was not that easy and a little disappointing. For first-time Thanksgiving hosts, I might recommend just getting a couple of really good organic chickens and roasting them. :) That's what we do every year and no one really seems to mind. It's all about the mashed potatoes and gravy anyway...right??